Giving in the Information Age

by Stephanie Casher on January 15, 2010

I’ve always been skeptical of the rapid proliferation of technology. I’m the girl who still has cassette tapes and actually listens to them. The girl who still tapes her Soaps on VHS and fast forwards through commercials (just like in the good ole days when MTV actually played music videos). The girl who actively resisted getting a cell phone for YEARS, because I just had no desire to be that accessible. I used to think it was insane that people kept the only copy of all the important phone numbers in their lives on a PHONE. Until I became one of them. That’s where my suspicion of all things tech begins–it breeds a dependency on things that I feel is totally unnatural. And irrational. And expensive. Don’t even get me started on this hyper-upgrade culture we’ve devolved into, where we are convinced to buy this overpriced-but-essential piece of of technology, only to get sucked/forced into upgrading every couple of months or years. I would boycott upgrades on principle if the updates in question didn’t render my previous version completely useless (don’t you hate that?!) But I digress. I’m actually writing this post because, for the first time, I want to celebrate technology. I have finally found a practical application for this thing called “texting”.

I’ve never been a big texter. Sure, its convenient if you want to ask someone a question, and need a quick response. But I cannot stand it when people try to initiate full on conversations with me via text message. Seriously, if you have time to type everything that happened with so and so last night, you can call and leave a message. But whoever thought of the idea to collect DONATIONS via text message was a genius. In 30 seconds, from the comfort of my own chair, I was able to send a text and donate money to the relief efforts in Haiti, charged automatically to next month’s cell phone bill. SO easy. And the most genius thing about it is that donating $10 is not a big deal for the average person (especially the average person with a cell phone). But several million people donating $10 sure adds up fast. Records are being broken the money is piling up so fast. So much props to relief organizers for harnessing the power of mass communication, the phone companies for facilitating the transfers of funds, and the folks who took the time out of their busy days to practice a random act of kindness.

All this buzz got me thinking, why can’t we utilize this technology to raise money for other causes. When Barack Obama was in pursuit of the presidency, he also raised millions of dollars through virtual and viral fundraising campaigns. People are willing to dig into their pocketbooks for a worthy cause–they’re proving it over and over again. So why can’t we set up fundraising campaigns for education, or saving state parks, or the other social services that are being cut as budgets are slashed? Maybe if people had more confidence that their money was being used for the purposes intended, they’d be more generous, more often. Just a thought.

We all need to take responsibility for rebuilding our world, and every little bit helps. If you haven’t already done so, please consider jumping on this bandwagon.

Haiti Text-To-Give Numbers, via Gigaom and Mobile Giving Insider
•Text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross
•Text HAITI to 25383 to donate $5 to International Rescue Committee
•Text HAITI to 45678 to donate $5 to the Salvation Army in Canada
•Text HAITI to 20222 to donate $10 through the Clinton Foundation
•Text HAITI to 864833 to donate $5 to The United Way
•Text CERF to 90999 to donate $5 to The United Nations Foundation
•Text DISASTER to 90999 to donate $10 to Compassion International

God Bless.

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